Welcome to Pushing The Limits, the show that helps you reach your full potential with your host Lisa Tamati, brought to you by lisatamati.com.
Lisa Tamati: Well, hi, everyone and welcome back to Pushing The Limits. This week I have Craig Harper to guest. Now, Craig is a very well-known media personality, exercise scientist, crazy fitness guru, owns some of the biggest personal training gyms in Australia, has a huge track record as a corporate speaker, motivational speaker, worked with Olympians, worked with all sorts of athletes across a number of different sports. And he's absolutely hilarious. I really enjoyed this interview, I was on Craig's show a couple of weeks ago, The You Project, you can go and check that one out as well. A great podcast. And today we sort of did a deep dive into everything around self-awareness and understanding your potential and realising your potential. And just it was a really interesting conversation with a very interesting man. He's doing a PhD in understanding the experience that people have when they meet you. So, understanding how people see you. So it's a really interesting conversation. So, I hope you enjoy that.
Before we go over to the show, please give us a rating and review. We really appreciate any ratings and reviews that you give us. It's really hugely helpful for the show. It is a labour of love. We are about to if we haven't already, by the time this podcast goes live, developing a way that you guys can get involved as audience members of Pushing The Limits if you want to support the show. So stay tuned for that. And in the meantime, if you need help with your running or you need help with your health, then please reach out to us. You can reach us at lisatamati.com. You can check out our programmes on lisatamati.com. We have our epigenetics programme and our running programmes where we do customised run training systems, video analysis, working out a plan customised fully for you and you get a consult with me. We also do health optimisation, coaching. So if you are needing help with a really difficult health journey, then please reach out to us as well. Right, over to the show with Craig Harper.
Lisa Tamati: Well, welcome back everybody to Pushing The Limits. Today I have an hilarious, amazing, crazy, awesome guest for you, Craig Harper. Who doesn't know Craig Harper? If you're in Australia, you definitely know who the heck Craig Harper is. If you're in New Zealand, you probably know who Craig Harper is. And if you don't, you're about to find out. Welcome to the show! Craig, how are you doing?
Craig Harper: Now I feel like I've got to live up to some kind of bloody pressure, some expectation. Nobody knows me in New Zealand. Let's start, you do and your mum. That's about it.
Lisa: Me and mum, you left quite an impression on my mum.
Craig: And my family, and relatives, and a few randoms over here, know who I am. But thank you, Lisa, for having me on. I'm really glad to be here.
Lisa: It's awesome. Now, this is gonna be a bit of a hilarious show because Craig is a bit of a character. I was on Craig's show in Australia, The You Project and it was one of the most fun podcast interviews I've had. I mean, I love getting into the science and deep with stuff, but it was really fun to just slip my hair down so to speak and rant and rave a little bit in here, but it’s fun, so today there'll be no doubt a bit of it. Craig, can you tell the ones who don't know about you? You're in Melbourne or just outside Melbourne in Hampton, Victoria in Australia. Can you tell us a little bit of your background, your crazy amazing career that you have had?
Craig: Sure. So I'll start with, well, maybe I'll go a little bit before my career because what happened before was a bit of a catalyst. So I had a pretty good childhood, all that stuff. I won't bore the listeners. But one of the things that was part of my growing up was being a fat kid, the fattest kid in my school. So that became a bit of a catalyst for me to explore getting in shape and all that stuff. So when I was 14, I lost a whole lot of weight. I was 90 something kilos, I went down to about 60 and I started training.
Craig: I started running and I started doing bodyweight stuff I lost about—I literally lost a third of my body weight in 15 weeks. And it wasn't like I had a horrible childhood, it was fine. But I was called jumbo all through school. That was my name so the kids called me that, parents, teachers all that but believe it or not, it wasn't really hostile, or horrible, it was I don't know it's because I was this big, fat, pretty happy kid, right? But anyway, so, I got in shape, and that led me into a lot of curiosity, and exploration, and investigation in fitness and nutrition. And so I started working in gyms when I was 18 and had no idea what I was doing. The qualifications and the barriers to entry then were very low. So, I started working in gyms, Lisa, when I was 18, which was 1982. I'm 57 and I ended up in 1989, I think, I set up the first Personal Training Center in Australia.
Craig: So, lots of other things around that. But I owned PT studios for 25 years at the biggest centre in the southern hemisphere in Brighton a few kilometres from where I'm sitting now, which was 10,000 square feet. It was bigger than lots of commercial gyms. But it was just a PT centre. Worked with elite athletes, work with the AFL over here Australian Football League with St Kilda footy club, Melbourne Vixens in the national and the Trans-Tasman League, it was then Netball League, Melbourne Phoenix, Nissan motorsport, a bunch of Olympians, blokes in prison, corporates, people with disability, normal people, abnormal people. I put me in the abnormal category.
Lisa: Yeah, definitely.
Craig: And later on when—I didn't go to uni until I was 36 for the first time.
Craig: Did a degree in exercise science. It was hilarious because I'd already been working with elite people as a conditioning coach and a strength coach. And yeah, lots of stuff. I did radio over here for about 20 years. I started my podcast a few years ago, I did television for a few years, three years on national telly. I wrote for the Herald Sun, which is the main paper in Melbourne for a while. Lots of magazines, I've written a bunch of books. I've written seven, I've written nine books, I think seven or eight of them are published. I'm looking at the books on my table, I should probably know that number.
Lisa: Can’t even remember, there's so many.
Craig: And, like, but really the thing that I guess where we might go today, but for me was, I realised by the time I was about 19 or 20 working in gyms, I realised that how much I knew about bodies wasn't nearly as important as how much I understood human beings. And so while my understanding of anatomy and physiology and biomechanics and movement and energy systems, and progressive overload, and adaptation and recovery, and all of those things wasn't great, to be honest, like I was 20.
Craig: But it was all right. And it improved over time. But what really mattered was how well I understood human behaviour. Because as you and I know, we can give someone a programme and direction and education and encouragement and support and resources, and not knowledge and awareness. But that doesn't mean they're going to go and do the work. And it definitely doesn't mean they're going to create the result. And it definitely doesn't mean they're going to explore their talent or their potential. And so yeah, it's been from when I was 18...
Lisa: So you've gone in it?
Craig: Yeah, from when I was 18 till now, it's just been lots of different roles and lots of different places. And I guess the other main bit before I shut up was I realised when I was about 20, that I didn't like having a boss much. And not that...
Lisa: We got that in common.
Craig: In my back, my boss was a good dude. But I thought I don't want to be, like, I could do this for me. I don't need to do this for you. And so the last time I had a boss was 32 years ago. So I've been working for myself since I was 25.
Lisa: Wow, that's freaking awesome. And what an amazing career and so many books, and I know that you're actually doing a PhD at the moment. So what's your PhD? And why did you choose this sort of a subject for your PhD?
Craig: Yeah, so my PhD is in neuropsychology/neuroscience. So, I'm at Monash over here, we have a facility called Bryan Park, which is cool. There's lots of cool stuff there. That's where I'm based. And my research is in a thing called external self-awareness, which is understanding the ‘you’ experience for others. So in other words, it's your ability to be able to understand how other people perceive and process and experience ‘you'.
Lisa: Wow, that is a fascinating subject.
Craig: Which is, very little research on it. So I'm, I've created a scale, which is to measure this component of psychology or communication or awareness. And so I'm doing—I'm putting that through the grill at the moment, getting that validated. I’m doing two studies. The first study is being run kind of soon. But yeah, the whole research is around this thing of ‘What's it like being around me and do I know what it's like being around me'? Not from an insecurity point of view, but from an awareness point of view because when I understand, for example, the Craig experience for Lisa or for an audience or in front of all for the person I'm coaching, or the athlete I'm working with, or the drug addict, the person with addictive issues that I'm sitting with, then if I understand what it's like being around me, I can create greater and deeper connection. But one of the mistakes that a lot of leaders, and coaches, and managers, and people in positions of authority make is that they assume that people just understand what they're saying. Or they assume that people think like them. When in reality, the only person who thinks exactly like me in the world is me.
Craig: And the only person who thinks like Lisa Tamati exactly all the time, 24/7 is Lisa, right?
Craig: So when I go into a conversation, or a situation, or a process, or a negotiation, or an encounter with somebody, and I assume that they think like me or understand like me, or that my intention is their experience, which is rarely the case, I'm more likely to create problems and solutions.
Lisa: Yeah. And you're not going to hit the nail on the head and actually get the results for where that person that you are wanting to get.
Craig: Yeah, and that is...
Lisa: This is a real powerful thing because you know what I mean, just maybe as you were talking there, I was like, ‘Well, how do people perceive me?', that's an interesting thought because you just sort of go through your daily interactions with people, and you think you're a compassionate, empathetic person who gets everything in, you’re sort of picking up on different cues and so on. But then to actually think how is that person experiencing me, and I like, as a coach, as I develop as a coach, I've had problems when I'm doing one on one, and that I'm overwhelming people sometimes because I'm so passionate and so full of information. And I've had to, and I'm still learning to fit that to the person that I'm talking to. And because, for me, it's like, I've got so much information, I want to fix you and help you. And I was like, ‘Woohoo', and the person was like, ‘Heh'.
Craig: So you and I connect because we're kind of similar, right? And I love that, I love your craziness and your energy, and you're full-onness. But you and I, unless we are aware around some people, we will scare the fuck out of them.
Craig: So, that's why it's important that people like—all of us really not just you and I, but that we have an awareness of what is the leisure experience for this because like, let's say, for example, you've got five athletes, and you want to inspire them and get them in the zone, motivate them, and they're all in front of you. And so you give all of them in the same moment. And let's say they're five similar athletes in a similar, if not the same sport with a similar goal—doesn't matter—but the reality is they are five different human beings, right? They've got five different belief systems and backgrounds and sets of values and prejudices and like and emotional states, and so you're not talking to the same person. But when you deliver the same message to five different humans, and you expect the same connection? We're not thinking it through.
Craig: So and of course, you can't create optimal connection with everyone all the time. But this is just part of the, ‘What's it like? What's their experience of me like?' And again, it's not about ‘Oh, I'm insecure, and I want them to like me'. No, it's about, ‘I need to understand how they perceive and process me so that I can create connection'. And look, the other really interesting thing about psychology and the human experience, and metacognition, thinking about thinking more broadly, is that all of us think we're open-minded and objective, but none of us are. Nobody is totally objective or open-minded because the human experience is subjective.
Craig: So, even me who understands this and is doing a PhD in it and teaches it. Well, people go back and you objective and I go, ‘No, I wish I was in it. I'd like to say I am because it sounds fucking great, but I'm not'. And the reason that I'm not is because wherever I go, my ego, my issues, my beliefs, my values, my limitations, my biases, go with me.
Craig: And they are the window through which I view and process the world, right?
Craig: So, our ego wants us to say, ‘Of course, I'm objective. Of course, I'm open-minded'. But the truth is, and with some things, we will be more objective and open-minded because we don't really have a pre-existing idea about it. But on a global or a broad level, our stuff goes with us everywhere, and the beginning of, without getting too deep or philosophical, but awareness—real awareness and consciousness—is to first be aware of your lack of awareness.
Lisa: Love it. That is amazing. Yeah.
Craig: You can't overcome the thing you won't acknowledge, or you can't get good at the thing you won't do. Right? And so I have to go, 'Firstly, I'm flawed. Firstly, I've got as many issues as anyone that I work with.’ And this is not self-loathing, this is me just going, ‘Okay, so how do I do better?' And this for me, this is the process of performance, high performance, whether it's at sport, at life, at recovery, at relationships, at connection—doesn't matter—high performance is high performance. For me, high performance means getting the most out of you and your potential and your resources and your time.
Craig: And so the principles that work with becoming an elite athlete, most of those principles work with building a great business.
Lisa: Yep, they grow further.
Craig: Which is why physicians follow through, get uncomfortable, do the work, show up, don't give up, ask great questions, persevere, roll up your sleeves, pay attention to your results, improvise, adapt, overcome. Like, this is not new stuff.
Lisa: Know that it rolls off your tongue pretty damn well because you've been in this space for a long time. And a lot of us like to go into that whole, our bias and yell at the future that we see the world through the lens, which we look through. We're not aware like, we love the programming. And this is what I had done a lot of work on for myself, the programming that I got as a kid, that I downloaded into my subconscious is running the ship, basically, and I can, as an educated, hopefully, wiser woman now, go ‘Hang on a minute, that little voice that just popped up in my head and told me, ‘I'm not good enough to do that', is not me talking. That's the programme. That's the programme I downloaded when I was, I don't know, seven or eight or something. And it's a product of that conditioning.’ And I can actually go in, and then it's that to change that story. Because that, and I think a lot of us are just running on automatic, we're still playing.
I'll give you an example. So when my mum was a kid, she was up on stage and doing a speech at school when she froze, right? And she got laughed off the stage. And kids can be nasty. And so forever in a day, she was like, ‘I will not ever speak in public again'. Because she'd had this experience as a what, a seven or eight-year-old. And she was telling me the story as a 40-something, 50-something year-old. 'No, I'm not ever getting up in a public space because', and I'm like, 'But that's just—you are not that seven or eight year old now. And you can have a choice to make that changes', and she couldn't make that change until she had the aneurysm. And then she forgot all those memories, some of those memories were gone, and that inhibition was gone. And now she'll get up and talk on stage in front of like 500 doctors.
Craig: That's amazing. I love it. And what you just articulated beautifully. The core of a lot of what I do, which is recognising your programming and where does my stories, or my stories finish? And where do I start?
Craig: So, you think about it, from everyone listening to this from when we could reason anything, or process any data around us or understand anything from when we—I don't know, two, three months, really probably earlier but until listening to this podcast right now, all of us have been trained, and taught, and told, and programmed, and conditioned. And then, now here we are. And it's being aware of that and me to everyone is like, ‘Well, my beliefs', like think about when did you choose your beliefs?
Craig: Pretty much never. They’re just there, and they’re there as a byproduct of your journey. Now that's okay, that's not bad or good. That's normal. Well, the next question is, are all of your beliefs, do they serve you? Well, the answer is no. Do any of them sabotage you? Well, a shitload! Okay, so let's put them under the microscope. So you know that word that I used before metacognition is, in a nutshell, thinking about thinking where and this is where we go, hang on. Let's just step out of the groundhog-dayness of our existence which you also spoke of, like, and let's go hang on. Because what we do, on a level we live consciously that is I've got to think about where I'm driving, and I've got to figure out what I'm giving the kids for dinner or what I'm getting, what time I'm training or, but really, on a real fundamental macro level. We live largely unconsciously...
Craig: ...because we kind of do the same shit the same way...
Craig: ...same conversations, even you and I know. Like, I've been training in the gym since I was 14, that's 43 years, I watch people go to the gym who always do the same fucking workout.
Craig: Same rep, the same set, same treadmill, same speed, same inclines, same boxing, same everything, same intensity, same workload, same machines. And then they say, why isn't my body changing? Well because it doesn't need to.
Lisa: No. Given the status quo, you don’t.
Craig: Because you're stimulating it the same way.
Lisa: I was working in that for years.
Craig: And we can expand that to life. Whereas we, kind of, I was talking to a lady yesterday about this, and she was telling me about a conversation she has with her son who's got some issues, who's 17. And I will be really honest, ‘How many times have you had a version of that conversation with him?’ She goes, ‘1,000'.
Craig: I go, ‘And how's that going?’ Now, that might be an exaggeration. But the bottom line is, but nonetheless, despite the fact that it didn't work the first 999 times, she's doing it again.
Lisa: She’ll keep doing it.
Craig: So it's about, and again, it's not about beating ourselves up, it's about gamble, whatever I'm doing, whether or not it's with this relationship, or this training programme, or this habit, or behaviour, or this business, whatever I'm doing isn't working. So let's have a new conversation or no conversation, or let's try a different protocol, or let's change the way I sleep.
Lisa: Isn't that like the circuitry in the brain, when you do something for the first time that’s really hard. Because you're creating a new connection in the brain. And therefore, we go into these old routines and habits, even though we don't want to be doing them anymore, but the groove and the brain is so well-worn, that path is so—those synapses of connected or whatever they do in there, and that path is so well-worn, that it's the path of least resistance for our lazy brains, and our subconscious to do what it does all the time. So, when you're driving a car home, and you can have a conversation and be singing a song, and thinking about what you're cooking for dinner, and then you get to halfway into town, and you realise, ‘Hell, I can't even remember driving there', but you were doing it, and you were doing it safely. Because it was all on that subconscious, automated level. When you were first driving the car, it was a mission. And it was like, ‘Oh my god, I got to change the gears and steer and keep an eye on,' and it was all like overwhelmed, but then it got easier and easier and easier. And then with our rituals and habits that we develop, we make these well-worn grooves, don't we? And then we just follow the same old, same old even though it's not getting the results that we want. And when we try and step out of our comfort zone and start doing a new habit and developing a new way, there's a lot of resistance in the brain for the first few weeks, isn't there? Until you get that groove going. And then it gets easier and easier and easier once you've done it 100 times. Is that what you're sort of saying here?
Craig: Yeah. I mean, that's perfect. I mean, you nailed it. Look, the thing is that everything that we do for the first time, for most of us, nearly everything, unless we've done something very similar before, but it's hard.
Craig: So I always say everyone starts as a white belt. In the dojo, you start as a white belt.
Craig: When as an ultramarathon, if I went, Lisa, which I wouldn't, but if I went, ‘I'm gonna run an ultramarathon'. Well, if I started training today, metaphorically, today, I'm a white belt.
Craig: I'm a black belt at other stuff.
Craig: I'm a green belt. I'm a yellow belt. Depends what I'm doing. Depends what—I'm not bad at talking to audiences that's... I should be pretty good at it. I've done it a million times. But take me to yoga, and I'll hide in the corner because I'm as flexible as a fucking ceramic tile. I’m a white belt. Right? I bet, put me in the gym lifting weights, I go okay, right? And so, again, this is all just about awareness, and development, and ownership. And, but the thing too, is that you're right, everything is very—we do create not only neural grooves, patterns, but also behavioural, and emotional, and cognitive grooves too, where we’re very comfortable in this space. And one of the challenges for us, it's like, it's a dichotomy. Because if everyone listening to this could somehow be involved and put up a show of hands, and we said, ‘All right, everyone. How many of you want to change something about your life or your outcomes or your situation or your body? Or your operating system or your current life experience?’ Nearly everyone's going to put up their hand.
Craig: For something, right? Something. Then if you said, all right, ‘Now, at the same time, be brutally honest with yourself, how many of you like being comfortable?’, everyone's gonna put up their hand. So the problem is, on the one hand, we say I want to be strong, and resilient, and amazing, and produce great results, and do great shit, and grow, and develop my potential and fucking kill it, and but I don't want to get uncomfortable. Well, good luck, princess, that isn't working. It doesn't work.
Lisa: The world’s a bitch really, isn't it? I mean, like it is the way it works. You need resistance.
Craig: How can you get strong without working against resistance?
Lisa: Yeah, yeah.
Lisa: This is just the… in my boxing gym, there was a saying on the wall, ‘Strength comes from struggle', and it's just like, ‘Oh damn, that's so right'. Like it's not what we always want. And I wish sometimes that the world was made another way. But we constantly need to be pushing up against what hurts, what is uncomfortable, it's painful just from a biology point of view being in the thermonuclear range, being nice and comfortably warm and cozy is really bad for us. And for you in that all the time, we need to go into an ice bath or cold water or go surfing or something and get cold, we need to be hot, go into a sauna. And when you do these things outside of those comfort zones, we need to lift weights in order to build stronger muscles, we need to do fasting in order to have autophagy, we need—all of these things are those stuff that is outside of pleasant. And you better get used to that idea. It's not because I want to be, like, masochistic in my approach to life. But it's just the way that the world works. If you sit on your ass being comfortable eating chips all day watching Netflix, you're not going to get the results that you're looking for.
Craig: That's right. And also there's this—because we only live in the moment. And because we are, and I'm generalising, and I'm sure a lot of your listeners are not what I'm about to describe. But because many of us are very instant gratification based.
Craig: Right? It's like, the story is I'll eat this, I'll do this, I'll avoid that. But I'll start tomorrow, or I'll start Monday, or I'll start January 1. And that goes on for 15 years, right?
Lisa: Yep. We’ve all done it.
Craig: And now I've backed myself into an emotional, and a psychological, and physiological corner that's hard to get out of because now, I'm 49. And my body's kind of fucked. And I've got high blood pressure. And I've got all these issues because I've been avoiding, and denying, and delaying, and lying to myself for a long time. Again, this is not everyone, so please don't get offended.
Lisa: And It's not a judgment. It's just the way it goes.
Craig: No, because, I mean, this is what happens. Like, we live in this world where you can't say the truth.
Craig: And I'm not talking about being insensitive or moral judgments on people. But the thing is, it's like, when I talk about being fat, I talk about myself because then no one could get injured, insulted...
Lisa: Insulted, yup.
Craig: ...or offended, right. So when I was fat, I wasn't thick-set, or full-figured or voluptuous or stocky? I was fucking fat. Right?
Craig: And, but I was fat because of my choices and behaviours.
Craig: Now, there are lots of variables around that.
Craig: But at some stage, we have to say, and again, there are people with genetics that make stuff difficult...
Craig: ...for medical conditions and all that we fully acknowledge that, but at some stage, we need to go, ‘Alright, well, I'm making decisions and doing things which are actually destroying me'.
Craig: ‘They're actually hurting me'. And this is just about ownership and awareness and my, like, the biggest challenge in my life is me, the biggest problem in my life is me. Like, the only person that can ever really get in my way is me. But also, I'm the solution to me.
Lisa: I think it's a willingness to work on it. And like, I've looked into addictions and things quite a lot too, because I know that I have an addictive personality trait. I have genetics that are predisposed to that, and I do everything obsessively. So whether that's running for like a billion kilometres, or whether that's running five companies, or whether that's whatever I'm doing, I'm doing like an extreme version of that because it's just, like, I have that type of personality and it is genetics. And I find that that's one of the study of genetics for me, it's so interesting, there's a lot of predisposition in there. However, that does not negate the fact that I can still make choices, and I can turn the ship around. And I need to be aware of those predispositions, just like mum's got some predispositions towards cardiovascular disease and putting on weight very easily. That's just a fact of life for her, and it's not pleasant. And compared to other genetic types, it's a bit of a disadvantage. However, it is a fact. And therefore, she can still make the right choices for her body.
And this is why I like working in the genetic space is really, really powerful because then I can say, well, it's not my fault that my genes are like this, but they are what they are, and we can remove some of the judgment on ourselves because I think when we—if we're judging ourselves all the time, that's not helpful either, because that stuff we’re like, ‘Oh, well, I'm just useless. And then I'm never gonna do anything,’ rather than empowering and say, ‘Well, it is what it is, the genes that I've been given are these, the environment that I've exposed to is this, the advertising and all that sort of stuff that's coming at us with McDonald's on every street corner and all of that sort of stuff, I can't influence there. What I can influence is I can educate myself and I can start to make better choices from my particular body and start taking ownership of that process and not just going, well, it's not my fault that I'm bigger boned.’ You may be bigger-boned or bigger, have genetics that are all about conservation. Then you need to be doubly careful. And put in the education, and the time, and the work, and I think it's about taking ownership and not judging yourself by getting on with the job. Like I know, like, I know my own personal and—what did you say to me the first time I met you? Something that was real self-aware anyway, without self-deprecating, and it was self-aware? I can't remember what it was that you said, it is a man who knows his own weakness and is working on it. And I think that's really key. Like, I know what I'm shit at and...
Craig: And that’s not self-loathing, that's self-awareness. And here's the thing, we're all about learning and growing. And I love my life, and I'm aware that I've got some skills and gifts. I'm also aware that I've got lots of flaws and shit I need to work on. And for some people, that's part of just the journey for other people, they are in a bit of a groundhog day. I always say if you're in a bit of a groundhog day, but you're happy then stay there. Because don't change because this is how I—don't be like me, for God's sake be like you. But if being like you, if your normal operating system equals anxiety, and sleeplessness and a bit of depression, and a bit of disconnection, and I'm not talking purely about mental health, I'm just talking about that state that we all get in, which is a bit like, ‘Fuck, I don't love my life, this wasn't where I thought I would be.’
Craig: Then maybe start to work consciously on and acknowledge, there's some things that you can't change, some you can, and literally what you were talking about a minute ago, which is literally, ‘Okay, so there's what I've got, which is I've got these genetics, I've got 24 hours in a day. I'm 57. I've got this, these are the things I have, then there's what I do with it all.’ So I'm an endomorph. I walk past a doughnut, my ass gets bigger. That's my body type, right? So I need to go, ‘Alright, well with these, or with this disposition, how do I manage optimally with 24 hours in a day without them using the least?’
Lisa: You’ve done a lot by the little sea, Craig.
Craig: How do I manage my 24 hours optimally?
Craig: How do I? It's like, I eat two meals a day. I don't recommend anyone else does that.
Lisa: For even the most, it’s great.
Craig: But for me, I don't…
Lisa: For an endomorph, that’s great.
Craig: I’m an 85-kilo dude with a bit of muscle. I don't need much food. Like, I would love to eat all the fucking food because I love food. What happens when I eat what I want versus what I need is I get fat. So I differentiate between: what does my body need to be lean, strong, functional, healthy versus what does Craig the fucking ex-fat kid want to inhale?
Craig: Because, and the other thing too. And this is probably a bit irrelevant. Maybe relevant, though, for a lot of people. Like I would say, of the people that I've worked with closer over the years, which is thousands and thousands.
Craig: I would say most people, including me, have a relationship with food that’s somewhere on the scale between a little bit disordered and an eating disorder, right?
Craig: And a little bit not always...
Lisa: I’ll cook my end up then. It’s always an issue.
Craig: At the other end of the scale, I'm a fucking lunatic around food, right? Now, you're educated, I'm educated, but I tell people all the time. So if I was an addict, and by the way, I've never drank, never smoked, never done drugs. But if I have started drugs or alcohol, I would have probably...
Lisa: Done it well.
Craig: ...a drunk and used for Australia, right? I probably would have been a champion because I'm like you. I'm addictive. Now my addiction is food. So you know people think, ‘But you're educated. But you're this, you're that.’ It doesn't matter. Like, I need to manage myself.
Lisa: Still won’t hit pie.
Craig: Yeah, I need to manage myself around food.
Lisa: Yeah, daily.
Craig: Because if I open the cheesecake door, get out of the fucking way.
Lisa: I hear you.
Craig: If I open certain doors that derails me, so I need to know. And this is the same with everybody. And it's like, we all have a relationship with food. Okay. Is yours good or bad? healthy or unhealthy? Don't overthink it, just be real. We all have a relationship with our body. How’s that going? We all have a relationship with exercise, activity movement. How’s that going? We all have a relationship with money. We all have a relationship with our ego. It's like, this is opening the door on self-awareness and self-management law to a new level.
Lisa: Yeah, love it. Yeah, and this is going to be a fascinating PhD. I really—I can't wait to find out more about it. And I think just having that self-awareness, like I will freely say like, I've struggled with my body image, and who I am, and am I acceptable, and I was always trying to be the skinny little modern girl when I was young, and gymnast, and as a kid, and so struggled immensely with body image issues. And people will look at me now and they go, ‘Oh, whatever, you're lean and you're fit obviously and you don't ever—you wouldn't understand.’ Oh, you have no idea how much I understand. And there's still a constant daily battle: even though I'm educated, even though I know exactly what I should be and shouldn't be doing, I don't always succeed against my —that in a sort of drive that sometimes when you get out of balance, and this is why for me like keeping myself, when I say imbalance, I mean like keeping my neurotransmitters under wraps like in a nice, ordered fashion because I have a tendency to dopamine and adrenaline being my dominant hormones, right?
So I'm just like, go, go, go! Do your absolute blow, take a jump and risk, don't think about it, do go and then burn out, crash bang! And so I need to, I need to have constant movement, I need to do the meditation thing regularly. Like before this podcast, I took five minutes to get my brain back into this space because I wanted to do a good interview. And I wasn't going to do that in this stressed-out body, I'd been doing too much admin work for 10 hours. So, I know how to manage those things. And it's the management on an everyday basis that I think and having those tools in your toolkit so that you know how to pull it up, I can feel my adrenaline going, I can feel the anger rising, I better go for a sprint out to the letterbox and back. Whatever it takes. Does it resonate with you?
Craig: Yeah, 100%. What's interesting is I've been around—I worked, one of the things I didn't mention, I worked at a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre for three years just as their kind of, what’s my title? Buddy health something, manager something, but I would only work there one day a week with them, but work with lots of addicts and alcoholics, and also athletes and all those things. But the thing is, especially with athletes, athletes tend to get their sense of self and their identity from their performances.
Craig: And not all, but a lot, and which is why I've known many athletes who got retired earlier than I thought.
Lisa: Broke down.
Craig: And well, they went into straightaway, most of them a depression or form of depression. And so this is a really interesting thing to just talk about briefly is—from a happiness and a wellness and a cognitive function, and a mental health, emotional health point of view, is to think about where you get your identity and sense of self from. Now, one of the challenges for us is, we live in a culture which is very much externally focused.
Craig: So who you are, Lisa, who you are is what you have, and what you own, and what you wear, and what you look like, and what people think of you, and your brand, and your performance, and your outcome. All things, your shit. And I grew up in that because I was an insecure, fucking fat kid who became an insecure, muscle-y bloke. And then I woke up one day, I was 30. And I was huge, and I had muscles on my eyelids and veins everywhere. And all I was was just a bigger, more insecure version of what I used to be. Because I was still a fuckwit just in a bigger body, right? Because I wasn't dealing with the issues. Because my problem wasn't my biceps or deltoids and being my problem is, I'm mentally and emotionally bankrupt, and perhaps spiritually depending on your belief system. And so, we get taught from an early age that who you are essentially is about all things external. So we get taught directly or indirectly that self-esteem and self-worth and identity is an outside-in process.
My theory is that it is the other way around. It is an inside-out journey. It is, it's differentiating between who I am and my stuff, and recognising that everything that I have and own, and earn, and do, and my profile, and my podcast, and my results, and my brand, and my house, and my biceps, and all those physical, external observable things don't matter nearly as much from a mental and emotional health point of view as what is happening internally.
Craig: So, and I'll shut up after this.
Lisa: No, that’s brilliant.
Craig: But this is cool not because I'm sharing it, just this idea is cool, is that is the duality of the human experience. And what that means is that we live in two worlds. So where we do life is in this physical external place of situation, circumstance, environment, traffic lights, other humans, government, COVID, weather, runners, running, sport, all that external stuff, which is not bad. It's awesome, but that's where we do life. But where we do our living, where we do living is that inner space of feelings and ideas and creativity and passion and fear, and depression and anxiety and hope and joy, and overthinking and self doubt and self-loathing, and excitement and creativity.
Craig: It's trying to understand—because you and I know, at least a few people, maybe many who from the outside looking in their life is fucking amazing.
Lisa: Yeah, yeah.
Craig: It's the Hollywood life.
Lisa: It’s so nearly like that.
Craig: It's a life on the outside of shiny.
Craig: But I've coached many of those people, trained them, worked with them, set with them. And not all, of course, some are great. But there are many people who from the outside looking in, you would go, they're really successful. That would be the label that we use in our culture.
Craig: Why are they successful? Oh, look at all of their stuff.
Craig: All of that stuff. Those outcomes, that house and that equals that money, that equals success. But when you sit in, you talk to that person, you go, ‘Oh, this successful person doesn't sleep much, this person needs to medicate to sleep, and also for anxiety, and also for depression. And also they hate themselves, and also they feel disconnected, and also they're lonely.’ And, or if not all of that, some of that, if not all the time, some of the time, and you got all the outside and the inside don’t match.
Lisa: Don’t unlatch. Yeah.
Craig: And so it's going. And by the way, of course, there's nothing wrong with building a great business and writing five books and being an awesome runner, or whatever, building an empire. That's not bad. But it's not healthy when that's the totality of who we are.
Lisa: Yeah, and spending time on the inside, and being okay with who you are. Because I often ask myself this question. What if it was all taken away from me again and I've lost—I went through my 30s, lost everything, hit start back from scratch. We've been there, done that. I've had to go through the wringer a couple of times. If everything was taken off me, my house, my achievements, my business, which could happen tomorrow, who am I? And would I be able to get back up again? And I reckon I would, because I've got tools to rebuild. And I know that resilience is the most important thing.
Lisa: The question I ask myself sometimes, so, is it whether, like, I lost my father this year, last year, sorry, six months ago, so that knocked the crap out of me...
Lisa: ...out of my resilience because that was like, up until that point, it didn't matter. If I lost my job, my car, my career, and anything else, but my family were safe, and they were all alive, then that's all I needed. And then when the chief gets taken out, the cornerstone who'd been a rock, my mum was too, but that was a cornerstone, then it didn't, it was a bit of an existential bloody crisis for me because I was like, ‘And now, life is never going to be the same again.’ And that resilience, I really had to dig deep to stand back up again. And I think, so grief is one of those things. So I asked myself constantly, and one of the reasons I drive myself so hard is to protect my family, and to look after them, make sure I don't miss anything. And this one of the things I study so hard for. Just sharing a personal story there to sort of get people to understand, ‘If you lost everything, could you get back up? What would it take to break you?’ That nearly broke me, to be brutally honest.
Craig: Well, I say to people who are in a bit of a—and thanks for sharing that, and sorry about your dad. God bless him.
Craig: Like, I say to people, ‘Okay, let's forget all the fucking KPIs and the deck and success mantras and all right, that's good.’ I can stand in front of people and motivate, and inspire, and make them laugh, and tell stories. And that's all good. But I go, ‘I've got three words for you one question three words. And the three words and the one question are, what really matters?’ Now, what really matters is not your fucking tally. It's not your bank balance. It's not your biceps. It's not your hair colour. It's not your fucking lippy, or it's in my case, it's not your abs or and none of those things of themselves are bad. But I've been really lucky that I've worked with people who are in a really bad way, people in prison who got themselves there, of course, but then probably more impact for me was people with really bad injuries.
Lisa: That’s amazing.
Craig: I work with a bloke at the moment, a mate of mine who got blown up in an accident. I trained him three days a week, and he was literally given zero chance of living like, or having any function similar to your mum.
Craig: And he started. He was in, like your mum, he was in a coma. I started, they said he'd be a quadriplegic. If he—firstly, they said he wouldn't live, and he lived in our luck out, mesmerised how that happened.
Craig: Got through the operations, he got blown up by gas bottles, which were in the back of his unit while he was driving.
Lisa: Oh my god.
Craig: That blew the car apart, that blew the roof off, they shattered windows for 800 meters in the houses. And he was given zero chance of living. And he was in a coma for a long time. And I'll go in and talk to him. And when he obviously was not awakened, all the stuff that you did, and I just say to him, that I don't know, like, that'd be gone. I don't know. Like, I don’t be guessing. I don't know, I might just get well enough to get out of here. And I'll start training him. I started training him in a wheelchair, with a broomstick. And so and the broomstick literally weighed, I don't know, maybe 100 grams. And so I would put the broomstick in his hands. And I would pull his hands away. So his arm’s away from his body.
Craig: And I'd say now try and pull that towards you.
Craig: And that's where we started.
Craig: With a 100-gram broomstick.
Craig: Now it's three and a bit years later, I've trained him for three and a bit years.
Craig: He is now walking with sticks. He drives himself to the gym. His brain function is fucking amazing.
Lisa: Oh my god.
Craig: He’s still in constant pain. And he's got a lot of issues. But the bottom line is the dude who they went, you will never ever walk, you will never talk.
Lisa: You’ll never survive.
Craig: They'll never be any—you'll never have any function, right?
Craig: So my two big perspective givers. That's one and the other one is—so...
Lisa: What a dude.
Craig: What’s that?
Lisa: What a legend.
Craig: Yeah, he's amazing. He's amazing. So about 14 months ago, I was at the gym and I was training with my training partner, who's like me and he’s all buffed. He's in good shape. He’s fit. He doesn't drink, doesn't smoke, him and I are very similar. Anyway, one of the stupid things that he does is he takes I don't want to get in trouble. But he takes pre-workout, doesn't do drug. Don't do anything. I don't know. But anyway, he took a pre-workout. We're training and he's doing a set of chins. And he did 30 chins, Lisa, and he held his breath for the whole time because that's what he does. He thinks he gets more reps when he holds his breath. By the way, folks, not a great plan. Holds his breath for 30 reps.
Lisa: He’s training his chemoreceptors. This for sure.
Craig: Yeah, comes down, falls on his face on the floor. And I think he's having a seizure.
Craig: And it had an instant cardiac arrest.
Lisa: Oh my god.
Craig: So, not a heart attack, a cardiac arrest. So, his heart stopped. So it took me kind of 20 seconds to realise it was that, and not... And there was—I won't describe what was going on with him.
Craig: But as you can imagine, turning all kinds of colours...
Craig: ...stuff coming out of his mouth. It was messy, right?
Craig: So, he was dead for 17 minutes.
Lisa: Oh, my God.
Craig: I worked on him for 10 until the ambos got there or the paramedics and God bless him. fricking amazing. But what's interesting is in that, firstly, that 17 minutes could have been 17 days. That's how clearly I remember those minutes.
Craig: And I'm on the floor, kneeling down next to one of my best friends in the world.
Craig: And I'm doing compressions and breathing, and I'm trying to save his life.
Craig: And it's funny how in that moment, everything comes, without even trying, to everything comes screamingly into perspective about, ‘What is bullshit?’
Craig: What matters?
Craig: What fucking doesn't matter?
Craig: What I waste energy and attention on. And literally those seven, eight minutes. I mean, I think I had pretty good awareness but they really changed me.
Lisa: Yeah. I hear you.
Craig: Nothing matters except the people I love.
Craig: I'll figure the rest out.
Lisa: Yep. It's an amazing story. Did he survive?
Craig: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's five-to-two here in Melbourne.
Lisa: And he's waiting for you?
Craig: We're training at five.
Lisa: Brilliant. Say hi for me.
Craig: He’s still an idiot.
Lisa: He’s awesome, he's lucky he got you.
Craig: He’s still an idiot, but at least he prays when he chins.
Lisa: Yeah, but like just the experience I went through with my dad. And I haven't done a whole podcast on it, and I tend to, because the two weeks fighting for his life in the hospital and fighting up against a system that wouldn't let me do intravenous vitamin C in that case that I was trying to because he had sepsis, and fighting with every ounce of my body and every ounce of my will, and in knowing that, and for those—it was 15 days that we were there, and they all blend into one because there was hardly any sleep happening in that time, a couple hours here and there and I'd fall over. But they changed me forever, in the fact that because I'm a fixer, I like to fix things and people.
And when we're in the fight, I’m the best person you want in your corner of the ring. If we're in a fight for your life, or not as an, like, I'm a paramedic, but if you want someone to fight for you, then I’m the biggest person to have in your corner. But when we lost that battle, man, I was broken. And to actually not to come out the other side and to have that win and to get him back and to save his life, especially knowing I had something that could have saved his life had I been able to give it to him from day one. And you said that about your friend who got blown up and you said, ‘Just get out of here, mate, no, take it from there.’ And that's what I was saying to my dad. And as he had, ‘You just get yourself—you just hang in there, dad, because I will do what I can do here, and I've got all my mates and my doctors and my scientists all lined up ready to go. As soon as I get you the hell out of this place, I will do whatever it takes to get you back.’ But I could not do anything in a critical care situation because I had no control over him, his body, what went into him. And it was a—he was on a ventilator and so on. And so that was out of my control, you know? And that's fricking devastating.
Lisa: To know that and to feel that.
Craig: How did that change you? Like, how did that change you in terms of...
Lisa: It's still an evolving process I think, Craig, and there's a burning desire in me to get that changed in our ICU for starters, to get recognition for intravenous vitamin C, which I've done like a five-part series on my podcast for status, but I'm working on other ideas and projects for that because we're talking thousands and thousands of doctors and scientists who have the proof that this helps with things like sepsis, like ADS, like pneumonia, and it's just being ignored. And it's, we’re just 20 years behind this is one of the reasons I do what I do, is because I know that the information, like going through that journey with my mum too, the information that latest in clinical studies, all of what the scientists are doing now and what's actually happening in clinical practice are just worlds apart. And with like a 20-year delay in from there to there, and the scientists are saying this, and the doctors at the cutting edge are saying this. And so things have to change. So that's changed me in a perspective because I've never been a political person. I don't want to really get—I love being in the positive world of change, and it's, do things. But I do feel myself going into this activism space in a little way because I need to get some changes happening and some systematic things and you know you're up against the big fight.
Lisa: This is a big base to take on. But I'll do what I can in my corner of the world, at least but it has changed. And all that matters to me now is my family and my friends, and then from a legacy perspective, is impacting the world massively with what I do know and the connections that I do have and bringing information like we've been hearing today and these very personal real stories to people's ears because it changes the way people have their own conversations and hence start to think.
Craig: Well, I think also, and thanks for sharing that. That's it. Somebody's got to step up, and you're stepping up and quite often the things that we need to do to live our values are not the things we want to do.
Lisa: No, scary.
Craig: Like, Fuck this. Yeah, I'd rather watch Netflix too. But that's not what I'm about. So it's good that you recognise that and you step into that, but I think what's encouraging about this conversation for everyone is that neither of us, well, I was gonna say, particularly special, you're quite special with what you do. But even with what you do, as an elite athlete, really, you've just put in an inordinate amount of work. Like, you've done all of the things required to become elite and to become an exception, but in many other ways, like with me, you've got issues and bullshit and flaws. And that's why I think—I'm not saying this is a great podcast by any means that or this is great conversation because that's very fucking self-indulgent. But what I mean is, I think people connect with podcasts, conversations that are just that.
Craig: Where it's not like two people who are...
Craig: ...just shooting off like experts. It's like, yeah, we're both figuring it out, too.
Craig: And by the way, I'm a dickhead too. By the way, I don't know, I've got a lot of shit wrong. Don't worry about that. It's like, I'm just having my best guess. And I always say, even as a coach, I've never changed anyone. All I've done is influenced people, but I've never done the work for them. They've always done the work. So, everyone that I've coached that succeeded, it's because they did the work. Like I didn't run the race. I didn't lift the weight. I didn't play the sport. I didn't go to the Olympics. I didn't walk out onto the arena. I didn't do anything. I'm just the guy going, ‘Fuck, come on, you can do it.’ And like, here’s a plan and here’s—it's like, I'm just the theory guy. I don't put it into—the only life that I put it into practice in is my own.
Lisa: Yeah. And that's powerful. And as a role model, too. I mean the shape that you're in and the stuff that you do, and you walk the talk, and those are the people that I want to listen to. And those are the people I want to learn from.
Craig: Well, my dad, my dad used to say to me, a couple of it, my dad's like a cranky philosopher. But he used to say to me a couple of things. This is irrelevant. The first one but it's, ‘You can't go to university and get a personality', right. Which is funny because my dad's like, ‘And university, it's overrated'. I agree, dad.
Craig: Second thing.
Lisa: For most things.
Craig: Second thing. He used to say, ‘I wouldn't trust accountants or financial planners who weren't rich'.
Lisa: Or trainers who are overweight.
Craig: It's like, I remember him saying to me, like a friend of his disrespect Toyota, but not a friend, but a dude he knew. He was a financial planner or an accountant. And he used to drive this old beaten up Corolla, and my dad's like, ‘Why would I listen to him?’ Like, look what he drives, like, if he knew anything about making money or maximising whatever.
Lisa: He’s got a point. He’s got a point.
Craig: So, yeah, I think the thing isn’t—when I listen to somebody like you, apart from being an elite athlete, what I know is that it's not like you've been given this gift, and you've just milked the gift. I know, you've obviously got a talent and a gift. But also what you've done is maximise everything around that from nutrition, and sleep, and supplements, and recovery, and decision making, and periodisation, and planning and prep.
Lisa: Yeah, I’ll swipe a stimulus for a long period of it.
Craig: And you've done all the work around, like, a lot of people are gifted, but don't do anything with it. Like a lot of people have got potential.
Lisa: Huge, huge and I have no potential, I had no talent, I really didn't, and I still don't but I did hear that just persistence. And I think one of the biggest things in life is persistence. And not expecting, like, how I hit a, so I'm doing this anti-ageing supplements that I've got coming in that I'm importing into the co